Ravens GM Eric DeCosta bullish on salary cap in coming years

OWINGS MILLS — The Ravens are one of the NFL’s biggest spending teams, and it puts a strain on the flexibility of their salary cap each year.

Last month, the NFL announced that this year’s salary cap will be $255.4 million — a 13.6 percent increase from last year. The $30.6 million increase from $224.8 million in 2023 is the largest year-to-year boost in league history.

General manager Eric DeCosta envisions the NFL boosting the salary cap even more in the future, which will be a boost to big spenders like the Ravens.

“It helps us this year, but it also helps us in the coming years as we project what we think that salary cap is going to be moving out in years ’25 and ’26, as well,” DeCosta said at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “It does give you a bigger picture of the landscape of football and what that means salary cap-wise from a roster-building standpoint. I think we’re excited about the potential that we have to be a good team this year, and we think that we’ll have some flexibility to remain good in the coming years.” 

The Ravens have $12.1 million in salary cap space, and they have a lot of roster holes to fill, especially on the offensive line, running back, and outside linebacker.

DeCosta will have to navigate around quarterback Lamar Jackson’s franchise-record five-year, $260 million deal last offseason. Jackson’s 2025 base salary is $20.25 million with a $750,000 roster bonus.

DeCosta confirmed that the Ravens will place the franchise tag on defensive tackle Justin Madubuike if they can’t reach a long-term deal by the March 5th deadline. Madubuike would earn $22.1 million next season playing under the tag.

The Ravens also are about to lose both starting guards — Kevin Zeitler and John Simpson — to free agency.

They also need to add a running back because the team has just two tailbacks on the active roster — Justice Hill and Keaton Mitchell, who won’t be available for the beginning of the 2024 season because of a knee injury.

“We need more than two running backs, so certainly I think you’ll see us make a couple of acquisitions along the way,” DeCosta said. “We think Keaton Mitchell’s going to come back from his knee injury. Justice is a player last year [that was] probably one of the unsung heroes of our whole team, I would say.”

DeCosta also needs money to sign the team’s upcoming draft picks.

It’s why the potential salary-cap relief moving forward is welcomed news, but DeCosta still faces hurdles in building the roster.

“The roster is always going to morph and change year to year,” he said. “You’ve got to stay young, but you’ve also got to have [a] great veteran presence, as well, [on] your offensive line and every other position. So, it’s really a balance. You want to be as young as you can, but you also want to have a lot of veteran experience, and I think everybody feels that.

“So, it’s really a delicate mix, because with a salary cap – with a salary-cap league – it makes it hard to keep every single player that you want to keep. We’re not like the old … I grew up a Cowboys fan, and we’re not like the Dallas Cowboys of 1991, 1992-93. The salary cap changes things, and that makes it a lot more challenging.” 

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